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Does the use of a multi-trait, multi-test approach to measure animal personality yield different behavioural syndrome results?

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A multi-trait, multi-test approach to investigate the convergence or discrimination between behavioural tests putatively targeting the same or different animal personality traits has been recommended, yet whether and how the approaches affect the identification of behavioural syndrome(s), the suite of correlated personality traits, requires investigation. Here, we used behavioural measures collected from five commonly used behavioural tests targeting three personality traits, evaluated their convergence/discrimination through exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and then explored whether the identification of syndrome changed based on the approach we used to quantify personality traits. Our results indicated that tests presumably targeting the same personality trait actually measured distinct behavioural aspects. Syndrome defined using correlation changed due to how we identified personality traits, but not when using structural equation models (SEMs). Overall, this study emphasizes that it is critical to clarify the approach and terms we use for ‘personality traits’ in the field of animal personality.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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